The holidays make Holly Anderson a little nostalgic. Like many, she looks back on years and her family’s traditions. One of the best times in her life, she said, was when she lived near Goldsboro. The yard was big there, and there was room for vegetable gardens and animals.
“I don’t love the city life,” Holly, 43, said in the kitchen of her southeast Raleigh apartment. “I loved the country.”
Born and raised in Scotland County, Holly moved to the Goldsboro area in 2005 and then to the mountains, where she lived with a friend. She later moved to Rocky Mount, where she lived with her sister, and then to the Raleigh area, because her brother was there.
All the moves, it seemed, were prompted by the death of a loved one, an injury or other challenge. There were shelters along the way and difficult situations with health and finances. But, she said, she always felt fortunate because she had her “girls” with her.
Daughters Destine, 18, and Karlea, 15, are central to Holly’s life. “We have a lot because we have each other,” she said. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t have anybody.”
Together, the three of them have been in their Raleigh apartment for four years -- a long time compared to the constant movement they experienced just a few years ago.
Today their kitchen counter is stacked with fresh onions, cucumbers and apples, food from a health program Holly and Karlea joined in June. The wall showcases an award Karlea received from Wake County Public Schools. “The superintendent gave it to me,” Karlea said with a grin.
Holly graduated from StepUp Ministry, a Raleigh program that helps people transform their lives through employment and life skills training. Today she works in a dining hall at N.C. State University.
She visits Catholic Parish Outreach, a food pantry, when she needs to. Most often those visits happen at the end of the month when finances are tightest, she said. Holly is also a part of CPO’s Family Table Collaborative, which helped to her link with StepUp.
“Holly became involved in the programs … her consistency helped her build relationships and gain confidence,” Myra Bradley, CPO’s Family Care coordinator, said. “For our clients, it’s about so much more than food. It’s about getting their lives back.”
The girls are proud of their mom. They help her in the kitchen and joke about her penchant for decorating with craft paper. And they like to occasionally treat Holly to new kitchen tools, such as a collapsible set of measuring cups. When NC Catholics visited their home, Karlea and Destine often leaned on their mom’s shoulder.
“We encourage each other … pick each other up and keep each other encouraged,” Holly said. “I want them to be strong and remember God’s grace.”
For the holidays this year, Holly said her family will keep their usual traditions. They will put up and decorate a simple Christmas tree. Holly and Karlea will bake cookies and deliver them on foot to the assisted living center near their home. Holly makes ginger snaps; Karlea usually prepares peanut butter balls. “There are 64 tenants over there,” Holly said matter-of-factly. “Four don’t eat nuts.”
For Karlea, the visits to the center are fun because she likes to see peoples’ reactions to the treats. “No matter how little I have, I can always do something else to help,” she said. “To me Thanksgiving is more about communication than Christmas is. I like to sit at the table and talk.”
Her sister agrees. “Yes! Around here, Thanksgiving is not as loud and exciting as Christmas,” Destine laughed.